This episode continues down the Ai Kamiyo introduction arc, where we’ve learned that she is cursed by a God to die at the age of 20.
This episode begins with Keitarou seeing a spirit in Ai’s apartment. Basically, spirits are drawn to the God’s power rubbing off on Ai (or at least that’s what I think — it’s not exactly explained very well). One spirit in particular is especially nasty looking.
Keitarou walks by, hoping to fool it by pretending he can’t see it. But, while the spirit initially came for Ai, once it gets a whiff of Keitarou, it wants him instead; so it follows him. We quickly learn that the spirit is really gross and likes to kill its target in a particularly gruesome way; by ripping out the brain by the stem. It tries to do this to Keitarou, but due to Yayoi’s protective dolls, it doesn’t work.
Keitarou rushes back into the room and tries to usher everybody out of Ai’s room immediately so they can leave before they are attacked. They get into the elevator and unfortunately see that the spirit has already followed them. This is a particularly comedic scene actually, where they were rushing beforehand and once they’re in the elevator they’re dead silent in the slow awkardness of seeing this dude. For once, Dark Gathering did some nice comedy in the middle of a horror sequence! That’s pretty hard to do.
Well regardless, they get to the lobby floor and rush out the elevator. The spirit reaches from the elevator past Yayoi and Keitarou (for some reason) and tries to grab Ai’s brain stem, but some sort of pentagon-power stops it. Ai covers her neck and shrieks. It’s unclear whether that was Yayoi’s protective doll or the God trying to keep her alive. I believe it’s the God, because Yayoi then says “Ai draws spirits to her, and then turns them on those around her,” — meaning, the spirit goes after Ai, sees they can’t get her because she’s already “claimed” by the god, and so therefore just go after whoever’s beside her instead.
Well, Keitarou is beside her, so naturally it goes after Keitarou next. It drags him into the elevator once again and the doors begin to close; Yayoi jumps in after him, but Eiko and Ai are trapped on the lobby floor as the elevator takes them to a basement that doesn’t actually exist.
Here we see Keitarou and Yayoi face off against this spirit, who has to be the most memorable spirit they’ve faced in the show thus far. He strums the brain stems of his victims to hurt them even in the afterlife, so that they do his bidding. We even get a pretty gross death scene of one of his past victims (who somehow shows Keitarou her own memories?).
Well, Yayoi and Keitarou defeat the spirit and allow the victims to instead tickle his brain stem for all eternity or until they are satisfied, inflicting pain on him in the dead just as he’s done to them. Pretty morbid, but deserved, I’d say. They’re also putting him up as a scarecrow in Ai’s room, so that any spirits who wander in to bother her will see that horrible visual and then promptly leave.
The final sequence is of Yayoi, Ai and Keitarou returning to Yayoi’s room where the God has burst out of the chains Yayoi put on him. The God appears before them and they both taunt one another for awhile. Yayoi gives a speech about how they’ll protect Ai and how her army of spirits desperately want to kill this God.
Opinions / Analysis
This episode was much better than other episodes we’ve seen, but lately the attention span of the anime viewer has gone done. We see series that are 10-15 episodes maximum, so I worry that viewers have long since dipped out of Dark Gathering due to how crappy the first episodes were.
This one is by far the best to date.
The set up was great, these mini-battles working up until the final “boss” of the God feel great, the ambience and creep-factor was great in this episode. The spirit they fought made contextual sense instead of “oopsie-daisies, we wandered into a random haunted location! lol.”
I’m eager to keep watching, but I wonder if the opening theme will change any time soon. Dark Gathering allegedly has 25 episodes in season 1 (season 2 unconfirmed) so if it goes the route of Jojo’s, it should theoretically have a new intro. We’ll see!